We still have approximately seven years and ten months until the 2026 Winter Olympics, but that’s not stopping Calgary from getting excited about them. The city council has been seriously discussing putting in a bid for the 2026 games and now that dream is a little closer to reality. The council voted Monday to put the decision to a plebiscite to see what the good people of Calgary think.
The federal and Alberta governments agreed in March to support a potential bid by Calgary for the 2026 games on the condition that the city hold a vote to ensure public support for the project. The Calgary government had asked for the two upper governments to split the cost for the $30 million bid evenly three ways. This week’s city council vote was to decide if the city would move forward with a campaign to read citizen opinion.
The city of Calgary have said that they are assessing the stakeholder and government support for a bid as well as the financial viability of hosting the games and the possible risks of proceeding. When all is said and done, the average cost of hosting the Winter Olympics is about $4 billion CAD. The 1988 Calgary Games came in at a little more than that with a $4.4 billion price tag. Not all of that came out of taxpayer pockets though. With all the tourism and publicity they generate, the Games can also be very lucrative and Calgary came out on top in 1988 with an estimated $32 million in profits.
Calgary will be up against cities in six other countries for 2026 including Austria, Italy, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey. Canada has only hosted the Olympics three times: the 1976 Summer Games in Montreal, the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary and the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. Toronto has made five unsuccessful attempts to host the Olympics which failed for various reasons, lack of public support among them. Calgary’s viability depends greatly on this plebiscite.
If the games are in Canada, maybe Tessa and Scott will come out of retirement to compete. We can dream, right?